You are browsing the archive for 2019 June 27.

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Voyager completes global flight

June 27, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

After nine days and four minutes in the sky, the experimental aircraft Voyager lands at Edwards Air Force Base in California, completing the first nonstop flight around the globe on one load of fuel. Piloted by Americans Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, Voyager was made mostly of plastic and stiffened paper and carried more than three times its weight in fuel when it took off from Edwards Air Force Base on December 14. By the time it returned, after flying 25,012 miles around the planet, it had just five gallons of fuel left in its remaining operational fuel tank.

Voyager was built by Burt Rutan of the Rutan Aircraft Company without government support and with minimal corporate sponsorship. Dick Rutan, Burt’s brother and a decorated Vietnam War pilot, joined the project early on, as did Dick’s friend Jeanna Yeager (no relation to aviator Chuck Yeager). Voyager‘s extremely light yet strong body was made of layers of carbon-fiber tape and paper impregnated with epoxy resin. Its wingspan was 111 feet, and it had its horizontal stabilizer wing on the plane’s nose rather than its rear–a trademark of many of Rutan’s aircraft designs. Essentially a flying fuel tank, every possible area was used for fuel storage and much modern aircraft technology was foregone in the effort to reduce weight.

When Voyager took off from Edwards Air Force at 8:02 a.m. PST on December 14, its wings were so heavy with fuel that their tips scraped along the ground and caused minor damage. The plane made it into the air, however, and headed west. On the second day, Voyager ran into severe turbulence caused by two tropical storms in the Pacific. Dick Rutan had been concerned about flying the aircraft at more than a 15-degree angle, but he soon found the plane could fly on its side at 90 degrees, which occurred when the wind tossed it back and forth.

Rutan and Yeager shared the controls, but Rutan, a more experienced pilot, did most of the flying owing to the long periods of turbulence encountered at various points in the journey. With weak stomachs, they ate only a fraction of the food brought along, and each lost about 10 pounds.

On December 23, when Voyager was flying north along the Baja California coast and just 450 miles short of its goal, the engine it was using went out, and the aircraft …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Future President Ronald Reagan serves in film unit

June 27, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On this day in 1943, future President Ronald Reagan, an Army Air Corps first lieutenant during World War II, is on an active-duty assignment with the Army’s First Motion Picture Unit.

Technically, Reagan was a unit public relations officer, however Warner Brothers Studios and the American Army Air Corps had tapped him the previous year to star in a motion picture called Air Force. To allow filming to go forward, Reagan was transferred from his cavalry unit to the Air Corps’ motion-picture unit in early January 1943.

Housed in the old Hal Roach studios, the First Motion Picture Unit (FMPU)–its acronym was pronounced fum-poo–produced military training, morale and propaganda films to aid the war effort. FMPU released Frank Capra’s Why We Fight series and a documentary of the bomber Memphis Belle, the crew of which completed a standard-setting 35 bombing missions in Europe. The films were screened on domestic training grounds and in troop camps overseas as well as in U.S. movie theaters.

Air Force, which was later renamed Beyond the Line of Duty, conveyed the true story of the heroic feats of aviator Shorty Wheliss and his crew and featured narration by Lt. Ronald Reagan. The documentary, intended to promote investment in war bonds, won an Academy Award in 1943 for best short subject. Reagan went on to narrate or star in three more shorts for FMPU including For God and Country,Cadet Classification, and the The Rear Gunner. Reagan also appeared as Johnny Jones in the 1943 full-length musical film This is the Army.

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Source: HISTORY

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Fire destroys Thomas Jefferson library

June 27, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On this day in 1851, a fire sweeps through the Library of Congress and destroys two-thirds of Thomas Jefferson’s personal literary collection.

Jefferson, who died in 1826, had offered to sell his personal library to Congress after the Congressional library, along with the rest of the Capitol and the White House, was burned by the British in 1814, during the War of 1812. His collection of 6,487 volumes of books and newspapers fetched $23,950 and, in addition to providing an invaluable archive to the nation, the fee helped pay off some of Jefferson’s personal debts. According to the Library of Congress, Jefferson also offered to arrange and number all the books himself. He called his collection, which contained a vast assortment of scientific works, an “interesting treasure” that he hoped would have a “national impact.”

Jefferson was a voracious reader who claimed that he could not live without books. His servants often found him sitting on the floor of his library at Monticello surrounded by as many as 20 open books and newspapers at a time. He studied a variety of subjects, including paleontology, mechanics, classical literature, natural history, agriculture, math, chemistry, philosophy and, of course, politics.

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Source: HISTORY

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British Women's Auxiliary Army Corps is officially established

June 27, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On this day in 1917, British Army Council Instruction Number 1069 formally establishes the British Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC), authorizing female volunteers to serve alongside their male counterparts in France during World War I.

By 1917, large numbers of women were already working in munitions factories throughout Britain, serving the crucial function of supplying sufficient shells and other munitions for the Allied war effort. The harsh conditions in the factories were undeniable, with long hours spent working with noxious chemicals such as the explosive TNT; a total of 61 female munitions workers died of poisoning, while 81 others died in accidents at work. An explosion at a munitions factory in Silvertown, East London, when an accidental fire ignited 50 tons of TNT, killed 69 more women and severely injured 72 more.

In early 1917, a campaign began to allow women to more directly support the war effort by enlisting in the army to perform labors such as cookery, mechanical and clerical work and other miscellaneous tasks that would otherwise be done by men who could better serve their country in the trenches. By March 11, 1917, even Sir Douglas Haig, the British commander in chief, had come around to the idea, writing to the British War Office that “the principle of employing women in this country [France] is accepted and they will be made use of wherever conditions admit.”

The establishment of the WAAC in the summer of 1917 meant that, for the first time, women were to be put in uniform and sent to France to serve as clerks, telephone operators, waitresses and in other positions on the war front. Women were paid less than their male counterparts: 24 shillings per week for unskilled labor and up to twice that for more skilled labor, such as shorthand typing.

As the stated purpose behind the WAAC was to release British soldiers doing menial work in Britain and France for active service at the front, the War Office set the restriction that for every woman given a job through the WAAC, a man had to be released for frontline duties. None of the female volunteers could become officers–according to traditions in the British army–but those who rose in the ranks were given the status of “controllers” or “administrators.”

By the end of World War I, approximately 80,000 women had served in the three British women’s forces–the WAAC, the Women’s …read more

Source: HISTORY

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"Saturday Night Fever" turns John Travolta into movie star

June 27, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On this day in 1977, Saturday Night Fever, a movie that ignites the disco dance craze across America, along with the movie career of its star, John Travolta, opens in theaters. Travolta earned a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his performance as 19-year-old Tony Manero, who during the week toils in a Brooklyn, New York hardware store and on the weekend dons a white suit and becomes king of a discotheque called 2001 Odyssey.

Tony takes great care in his appearance, at one point during the film uttering the now-famous line: “Would ya just watch the hair. Ya know, I work on my hair a long time and you hit it. He hits my hair.”

Music played an essential role in Saturday Night Fever, and the film’s soundtrack, which featured a number of songs by the Bee Gees, including “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever,” “How Deep is Your Love” and “Jive Talkin,” became one of the best-selling soundtracks of all time. Saturday Night Fever was one of Gene Siskel’s favorite films. The prominent film critic (who died in 1999) reportedly watched the movie at least 17 times and even purchased the now-iconic white polyester suit Travolta wore while strutting across the lighted dance floor.

Prior to Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta, who was born on February 18, 1954, in Englewood, New Jersey, appeared in the 1976 horror film Carrie, starring Sissy Spacek, and the 1976 made-for-TV movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. He was best known, however, for his role as Vinnie Barbarino, a remedial high school student who employs the catchphrase “Up your nose with a rubber hose” on the TV sitcom Welcome Back Kotter, which originally aired from 1975 to 1979.

After Saturday Night Fever propelled him to international stardom, Travolta followed up with another huge box-office hit, the 1978 big-screen adaptation of the musical Grease. In his role as 1950s-era bad boy Danny to co-star Olivia Newton-John’s good girl Sandy, Travolta charmed audiences with his singing and dancing. Grease was the highest-grossing film of 1978 as well as the highest-grossing movie musical of all time. Following Grease, Travolta helped spark another craze–this time for country music–with the 1980 box-office hit Urban Cowboy, co-starring Debra Winger.

During the 1980s, Travolta starred in a string of mediocre movies, including Staying Alive (1983), a sequel to Saturday Night Fever that was directed and co-written by Sylvester Stallone, …read more

Source: HISTORY

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No One Believes the President’s War Claims Anymore

June 27, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

By the slimmest margin, the United States managed to escape
another Middle East war. After preparations had been made to strike
Iran, President Donald Trump abruptly said he’d decided
against retaliating for a downed American drone. Killing some 150
Iranians in response to the destruction of an unmanned aircraft, he
believed, was disproportionate.

It was a good call. But the episode reminds us that the
president is almost alone in his administration in wanting to avoid
a conflict. And he is violating the Constitution by acting as if he
is at all authorized to start a war.

Iran predictably claimed that the drone was within its airspace.
American officials asserted that it was in international airspace.
Reported The New York Times: “a senior
Trump administration official said there was concern inside the
United States government about whether the drone, or another
American surveillance aircraft, or even the P-8A manned aircraft
flown by a military aircrew, actually did violate Iranian airspace
at some point. The official said the doubt was one of the reasons
Mr. Trump called off the strike.”

Thanks to Iraq, people
remained deeply skeptical of Trump’s march to war with Iran-and a
good thing too.

The point is worth repeating. The military was prepared to blast
away when it wasn’t even certain whether America was in the
right. The episode brings to mind the 1988 shootdown of an Iranian
airliner in the Persian Gulf by the guided missile cruiser USS
Vincennes
. Initially the U.S. Navy justified its action,
making a series of false claims about Iran Air Flight 655, which
carried 290 passengers and crew members. Eventually Washington did
admit that it had made a horrific mistake, though the Vincennes
captain was later decorated.

The possibility that the United States might be committing an
act of war under false pretenses apparently did little to
discourage the president’s principal foreign policy advisers,
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John
Bolton, from pushing a military response. Tehran’s action was
presented as raw aggression, an act of war that deserved
retaliation.

The president apparently complained to a close associate,
“These people want to push us into a war, and it’s so
disgusting.” According to The Wall Street
Journal
, he further opined, “We don’t need any
more wars.” He’s right. But then why has Trump chosen
to surround himself with advisers apparently so at variance with
his views?

Presumably the president believes that he can control his
war-happy subordinates, using them as he sees fit. However, his
overweening hubris ignores their power to set the agenda and
influence his choices. Consider the basic question of objectives
regarding Iran. Trump now says all he …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Loan Interest Caps Take Credit Away from the Poor

June 27, 2019 in Economics

By Diego Zuluaga

Diego Zuluaga

This week the California state Senate will debate Assembly Bill
539, a bill that would make half of consumer loans between $2,500
and $10,000 made in the state illegal. The bill’s aim is to lower
the cost of consumer credit, but history shows that interest-rate
caps like the one AB539 would institute only work to reduce the
supply of loans, especially to the most vulnerable.

The Golden State already has one of the most draconian payday
loan laws in the Union: Borrowers may borrow at most $300 ($255
once fees are discounted) and they cannot roll over the loan at the
end of its term. Loans between $300 and $2,500 may only happen
under a special-purpose pilot program which in 2017 attracted a
mere 16 participating lenders. As a result, there are fewer loans
made under $2,500 than between $2,500 and $4,999. Furthermore, 57
percent of people who apply for credit under the pilot program are
rejected.

The more than 2 million (17.6 percent of) California households
who, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation,
currently lack access to bank credit face very limited options for
short-term borrowing. AB539 would only make the problem worse, by
capping the annual interest rate on loans between $2,500 and
$10,000 at 36 percent plus the Fed interest rate target, currently
2.4 percent.

The economic evidence
consistently shows that interest-rate caps are harmful. They make
it harder to approve applicants for credit, because some borrowers’
lack of collateral and high default risk make lending to them under
the cap unprofitable.

California isn’t alone in looking to further restrict the
interest rates that lenders can charge. According to the World
Bank, as many as 30 countries have either introduced or tightened
up usury laws — which ban lending above a certain rate of
interest — since 2011. Such caps are among the oldest
financial regulations, featuring in the Old Testament and in the
writings of Aristotle. Most Western countries had tight
interest-rate caps, rarely above 10 percent per annum, until the
mid-19th century.

Yet, the economic evidence consistently shows that interest-rate
caps are harmful. They make it harder to approve applicants for
credit, because some borrowers’ lack of collateral and high default
risk make lending to them under the cap unprofitable.

Like other price controls, usury caps cause credit demand to
exceed supply. Remember the pictures of long lines at gas stations
during the 1970s oil crises, when government restricted the price
of gas? Interest-rate caps would similarly lead to more people
wanting credit than was available, giving lenders the ability to
favor their friends and to allocate credit based on irrelevant
factors or personal traits.

Indeed, …read more

Source: OP-EDS